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CTI: High level side event on Convention against Torture Initiative: Strategies to prevent torture in police custody, 1. march 2016

Statement Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr Kristian Jensen:


Distinguished fellow Ministers, Deputy Ministers and other Government representatives, distinguished Special Representative for Human Rights, ladies and gentlemen.

On behalf of the five spearheading States of the Convention against Torture Initiative – Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Morocco and Denmark – it is a great honour for me to welcome you to this high level side event of the CTI to discuss strategies to prevent torture and ill-treatment in police custody.

The CTI was created not only to achieve universal ratification of the Convention against Torture, but also to promote better implementation of this important convention. Better implementation is indeed needed to ensure that the prohibition against torture is not confined to a commitment on paper, but becomes a reality to those that still face torture today.

I am a firm believer in the right of every person to decide his or her own life and future. By attacking the human dignity of persons and leaving them with terrible mental and physical scars, torture is a degrading attack on exactly that right.

We must therefore all do better when it comes to implementation! To do that, all stakeholders must engage. This is why we decided to launch the CTI: To mobilize positive, mutual support among States to overcome the obstacles for implementation that countries face.

[The work of the CTI]
Since its launch two years ago, a lot of progress has been made in the area of ratification. 12 States have ratified the Convention against Torture or its Optional Protocol. And within the CTI, we are in dialogue with a number of States moving towards ratification.

The CTI has hosted a number of regional events over the past year: In Indonesia, in Poland, in Costa Rica, and in Morocco.

Only a few days ago, the CTI adopted a two-year strategy on how to advance our goals. The strategy is public and is available here at the meeting today as well as on the CTI website.

We have also continued to expand our Group of Friends that today counts 32 States. We wish to continue to widen this platform of Friends to exchange knowledge, experience and ideas. Let me therefore reiterate our invitation to all UN member states to join the Group of Friends of the CTI.

[Today’s topic – and a DK HRC resolution]
With that encouragement in mind, I will now turn to the topic of our event today – how to prevent torture and ill-treatment in police custody.

Now why is this issue important? First of all, because it reflects a real, everyday problem in countries in all regions of the world. We know from research and multiple experts that the early phases of police custody are where torture and ill-treatment is most often committed. On a daily basis and in a systematic manner. But despite this knowledge, the international focus on this area has not been intense.

And secondly, because a better protection from torture in this area improves the legitimacy of the entire criminal justice system. One can only have a fair trial, a right to remain silent and a right to be presumed innocent, when confessions are voluntary and not forced through torture or ill-treatment. These are fundamental rights in societies built on the rule of law, and we must do our outmost to protect them.

How to prevent torture and ill-treatment in police custody is also the topic of the thematic resolution on torture that Denmark will present during this Human Rights Council session. I hope and warmly encourage full support for this important resolution. A strong, unanimous resolution will once again send a clear signal from this Council and be an important step forward in the fight against torture.

Let me therefore end by wishing you all a fruitful debate and to encourage you all to support the work of the CTI and of Denmark in this area.

Thank you.